The short story of the tallest man, Robert Wadlow

Black and white vintage photograph of Robert Wadlow, the tallest man recorded in history, standing next to his father, who appears significantly shorter in comparison. Both are dressed in suits and are standing indoors with a plain backdrop, and Robert towers over his father, illustrating the stark difference in their heights.

He had a deep voice and a soft playful smile, and he knew all the history of his hometown of Alton, Illinois, and he liked to take photographs of the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus that he was part of.

And in so many ways he was just a kid, sixteen, doing normal activities such as serving as the advertising manager for his school’s yearbook.

But he always stood out. For Robert Wadlow was tall. Very tall. By sixteen, which is when this photograph was taken, he was almost eight feet tall. And he would continue to grow. All the way to a height of 8 feet 11.1 inches.

His rapid growth left him with brittle bones. Rarely did he walk without leg braces and a cane. And while he had relatively good health in his youth, Robert had little feeling in his legs and feet as he grew older.

He passed away at the age of 22 from an infection, caused by a faulty brace which irritated his ankle and led to a blister. At the time of his death, it was said that he was still growing.


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“The short story of the tallest man, Robert Wadlow” sources: Photograph is of Robert and his father, taken before 1937 – Wikimedia Commons, Wikimedia Foundation,